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Wine labeling being reviewed

In February 1999, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms granted authority to wine makers to include a mention that moderate consumption of wine is associated with a lower risk of heart disease for some people.

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These "directional" labels tell consumers to consult their doctors or dietary guidelines for health benefits. This move prompted Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC), a vigorous advocate of warning labels on alcoholic beverages, to introduce bills aimed at thwarting the measure. Now, BATF is seeking comment on its proposal to amend its regulations to prohibit health claims on labels of wine and other alcoholic beverages. BATF is asking for comments on whether the negative consequences of drinking alcohol or alcohol abuse disqualify these products entirely from making any health claim. Also, the agency wants to know if the directional guidance on the labels is misleading and should no longer be allowed. BATF's notice of proposed rulemaking would establish a formal policy rather than the current informal guidance to the wine and alcohol industry on what is permitted on labels. BATF is accepting comments until Feb. 22, 2000.

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